If I had to bring up one food item that makes me think of down-home cooking, it would have to be gravy. I love savory foods, and gravy can go on meat, veggies, bread… I absolutely love gravy on French fries, no lie! So the idea of making a dish with gravy is always very appealing, even though I don’t get to very often.
The meat, though… It took me many years to learn to enjoy meat, and I am still not much of a fan of ground or processed meats. (Except for Spam, for some reason. What’s with that? And please don’t tell me what’s in it, I really don’t want to know.) Anyway, I absolutely hated the texture and flavor of meat when I was a child, and it used to drive my mother crazy. She had many ways of making dollars stretch by using hamburger, sausage or ground poultry, so the challenge was always on to get this kid to eat it. Knowing how much I loved gravy, my mother used to cook Salisbury steak and cover it with her amazing gravy, serving it with potatoes and other scrumptious veggies. I would take all that luscious gravy and put it on my potatoes and veggies, leaving that miserable meat patty to suffer, naked, in silence. If she insisted, I would eat it, but it was never my desire to do so. I think in the long run she was just really happy that I loved vegetables the way I did. (And, thank you, Mom, for teaching me to be creative in my cooking! You are the BEST!)
I figure that I have gone decades despising Salisbury steak or hamburger patties, etc., so it is time to overcome that distaste. If any recipe could bring me out of this misery, I knew I could find it in one of Ree Drummond’s books. Sure enough, The Pioneer Woman’s book, “Come and Get It,” has a recipe that looks absolutely delicious. It is Hamburger Steaks with Mushroom Gravy (pg 113-115). Gravy! Mushrooms! It sounded great. Besides, if I didn’t like the meat, I could scrape all of the gravy onto my Hasselback potato (pg 280-281)!
Do you want to know what caught me most by surprise in this recipe? The hamburger steaks are just hamburgers. I have covered the flavor in my hamburgers over the years with added onion soup mix, Worcestershire sauce, onions, BBQ sauce… whatever I could find to add flavor. These “steaks” were just hamburger, pressed into oval patties, and lightly sprinkled with salt and pepper. That’s all. I was sure I was going to hate these things.
But the gravy! Wow! Mushrooms, beef broth, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme make for the most amazing gravy. Ever. I had to have Flora cook the gravy, because I kept wanting to dish out a cup of it, or snag some mushrooms from it. She had more self-control than I did by far!
These potatoes are beautiful, and they take a little more effort than I expected. They are sliced in thin slices, but not all the way through the potato. Once the potatoes are sliced, you place them on the baking pan (lined with parchment paper for easiest cleanup), then you brush a mixture of melted butter and olive oil with chives, salt and pepper over the potato and between the slices. They come out as delicious as this sounds, kind of a cross between baked potato and soft potato chips.
We also made some broccoli, but we didn’t do anything special, other than steaming it until it was tender.
The Verdict Is In: Guilty as Charged.
Pioneer Woman, you are convicted of coming up with a way to cook with hamburger that I absolutely LOVED. You are sentenced to keep cooking and coming up with the lovely recipes that have been turning our families on since we started this blog. Seriously, I really do have to thank you for this one. Who would have thought plain hamburger would have made me so happy? I sure didn’t! It really did seem like steak with gravy.
Do I Hear… Happiness… In Here?
Why, yes, Miss Hannigan, you do! Flora is my idol when it comes to making desserts: pies, cookies, cakes, brownies… You name it. She even has a bunch of those recipes memorized. This has come in handy repeatedly. So what treat did Flora have for us today? She made no-bake cheesecakes. Yes, that’s right, Cheese-Cake-S. They are so good! We were trying to decide what topping to make, and when I opened the fridge, an apple fell on my foot. Solved that problem: We would make some fried apples and caramel sauce to serve on top of the cheesecakes for whomever wanted it.
This is happiness on a plate! I never would have planned on having fried apples on cheesecake, but I am so glad it happened. And the caramel sauce… absolutely perfect.